Custodial work isn’t easy. It can be even more challenging if you are a recent immigrant to the United States. For three such women in Fresno, their journey became a nightmare when they were subjected to sexual harassment at work.
ABM Janitorial Services is a national janitorial company with contracts and offices throughout the United States. Many of the people they employ have newly immigrated to the United States. Unlike many positions which require licenses from the states, janitorial and custodial work provides entry level work with few barriers.
In 2019, a nonprofit group Equal Rights Advocates filed a lawsuit on behalf of the three women. All were working for ABM or one of their affiliates in Fresno, California. All claimed serious sexual harassment.
Although portions of the case are sealed, the women said they faced rape, retaliation and later termination and blacklisting when they filed complaints with the EEOC. In February 2021, the company settled for an undisclosed amount.
ABM claims it took the complaints seriously and quickly terminated the individuals accused of the harassment. In a prepared statement, the company said:
“Upon learning of these alleged incidents, we took immediate action by suspending the accused individuals, retaining an independent third party to investigate the claims, following up with the employees on their well-being, and subsequently terminated the accused individuals immediately after our investigation concluded. We take any claim of sexual harassment very seriously and remain committed to providing a safe workplace for all.”
As part of the settlement, the company agreed to implement new sexual harassment training requirements and safety protocols.
ABM has a history of sexual harassment lawsuits across the country.
Janitorial Services and Sexual Harassment
Although the three custodians in this story all worked for ABM, sexual harassment and sexual abuse is all too common for custodians and janitors.
For many women with few marketable skills or having language barriers, custodial work is one of few job options. Keeping food on the table for their families is critical and unfortunately, that makes them easy targets for harassment.
In this case, one of the janitors who sued told the Fresno Bee, “He harassed me, he touched me, he said things to me verbally. He made me suffer a lot. I didn’t know what to do because he said that if I said anything no one would believe me because he was the boss and I just was a worker.”
In our experience, that belief that “I am just a worker, no one will believe me” occurs all too frequently. In fact, we believe that most custodians that suffer harassment never report their mistreatment. They either continue to endure the harassment or do so until they can find other employment.
Sexual harassment is illegal under both federal and state law everywhere in the United States. And there are strong anti-retaliation provisions in these laws designed to protect workers who do step forward.
Were You Sexually Assaulted at Work or by a Co-Worker?
If you or a loved one were sexually assaulted while at work or while attending a work function, contact us immediately. We also invite you to visit our sexual assault page.
To get the maximum compensation for your injuries, you need lawyers who are both aggressive and experienced. Brian Mahany and his handpicked team have a long history of pursuing sex offenders. Brian is a former police officer, prosecutor, and board member of the Family Violence Project. He is also a former volunteer with the Sexual Assault Crisis and Assault Center.
If you are the victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault or, rape, contact us. Brian and his network can be reached online, by email [hidden email] or by phone at 877.858.8018. All inquiries are kept strictly confidential.